A sweet welcome for bakery and ‘beer boutique’ in Manayunk

Here’s something you won’t see very often: A unanimous vote of the Manayunk Neighborhood Council approving a new beer-seller along Main Street.

Wednesday night, the group agreed to support the owners of the award-winning South Philly Hawthornes Beer Boutique and Gourmet Eatery in seeking a zoning application to sell takeaway beer and food at 4329 Main St., the former Events in Style location.

But please, owners Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico said, don’t call it a bar.

“It’s more of a luxury item that we tend to sell,” Annechiarico said.

The couple, a pair of self-professed beer geeks who have operated a well-regarded full-service restaurant at 11th and Fitzwater since Nov. 2009, made their pitch for a “beer boutique” featuring exotic, small-batch, imported and other fancy brews. A menu for what they’re calling Hawthornes Provisions is still in development, but would likely feature sandwiches, cheeses and other small bites.

From the get-go, they stressed what they won’t sell: malt liquor, spirits, beer by the case, cigarettes, condoms or anything else that might attract the boozy, rowdy horde that descends on Main Street every weekend.

In fact, there won’t even be an actual bar in the 1,700 square-foot place, only perhaps a few small high-top tables or a ledge along the front window, owners said.

In seeking the MNC’s support for the conditional liquor license they seek from the city, Hawthornes’ owners agreed to a few key provisions: The shop will close at midnight on weekends, and likely around 10 p.m. during the week, and the license can’t be sold or transferred if the business changes hands.

In the end, MNC members gave Hawthornes an enthusiastic go-ahead, but not after making their misgivings clear.

“You’re asking for a leap of faith,” said MNC trustee Dave Bass, pledging that community members “will remember these promises and hold you accountable.”

Fetfatzes and Annechiarico said they’d welcome the oversight, and offered letters from Councilman Frank DiCicco, civic associations and even the 3rd District Police Department attesting to the quality of their business. They’ve never been cited for sale to a minor, and have taken pains to create the kind of atmosphere that discourages the partying crowd, they said.

“It is really about how the business is run, if it’s a problem or not,” said Kevin Smith, MNC president.

Also Wednesday, the MNC got a sample of local baker Elizabeth Paradiso’s plan for a cupcake-centric bakery at 4409 Main St., the former Dairyland/Rita’s Water Ice location.

Paradiso, a pastry chef who has worked at Chestnut Hill landmark Bredenbeck’s, appeared with her husband Owen — and a box of red velvet and lemon-mascarpone cupcakes — to discuss their plans to sell desserts, special occasion cakes, coffee and tea.

Their plan for Sweet Elizabeth’s Cakes conforms to current zoning and so didn’t need a formal vote from MNC members, and Paradiso said she plans to open in June. 

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